good places to ride in Chicago

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by woodchuck, May 25, 2006.

  1. woodchuck

    woodchuck New Member

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    I will be in downtown Chicago for a week and need to find a easy, no-hassle place to road ride. The main objective is get there fast and minimize hassles getting started etc. Does anyone have any suggestions or pointers to other threads?
     
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  2. JTE83

    JTE83 Member

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    The best place to ride is Lake shore Drive from Olive Park (near Navy Pier) all the way North to Brywn Mawr. That's 7 exact miles, and this is my workout. It's mostly nonstop, and not much traffic during the weekdays. Good weather + weekend = lots of traffic. You can rent mtn bikes at Navy Pier and North Ave Beach.

    The wind varies from 2 to 10 mph, mostly N or S winds.
     
  3. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    It depends how far you want to ride ...

    If you are accustomed to urban traffic, you can head NORTH on Ashland (I think you can pick it up from Canal which is just north of the Loop -- Ashland is a fairly busy street ... it goes past Wrigley Field) ... keep going NORTH for about eight miles if you are starting your mileage count from the LOOP ...

    When you exit Chicago and enter Evanston (at Howard) the street will go underneath a viaduct and the name will change to Chicago Avenue. In about two (?) miles, you will be at the Nortwestern campus where Chicago Avenue meets up with Sheridan Road. Keep going NORTH.

    ONCE YOU REACH SHERIDAN ROAD, IT'S PROBABLY A MILE-OR-SO BETWEEN STOP LIGHTS ALONG MOST STRETCHES ...

    Stay on Sheridan Road. Once you reach Wilmette, you will pass the B'hai Temple ... and the traffic will become suburban.

    Once you get past Kenilworth and into Winnetka, the traffic will probably drop off by quite a bit.

    About a mile past Winnetka Avenue (on Sheridan Road) the road will rise up to Tower Road. Keep going NORTH, but be aware that you will be taking a quick AND fairly steep 50 yard long DROP and then about a quarter mile climb.

    If you get to Ravinia (in Highland Park), you will have gone about 21 miles, give-or-take. A good place to turn around.

    You can go further NORTH ... up to Great Lakes Naval station ... that's as far North as I've been (a long, long time ago) ...

    You can also get to Sheridan Road by first heading to the Lakefront ... take the bike path NORTH as far as it will go ... when the bike path ends (WHERE DOES IT END? Past Morse? At Howard?), I think you will want to STAY ON the bikepath/sidewalk (!) until you get to Evanston ... tedious.

    BTW. Lake Shore Drive separates the Lakefront from the city. You can't actually ride ON Lake Shore Drive ... Lake Shore Drive pretty much parallels the shore line as does the Lakefront's bike path (you will be competing with walkers, etc.). You can cross LSD at Monroe to get to the Lakefront park which spans the length of the city.

    BRING your own water, etc. ... places to stop (conveniently) will actually be very few.

    REMEMBER the route you take going out for the return trip! Try not to miss the left hand turn (and, slight drop in the road) on the return AFTER passing the B'hai Temple when heading back SOUTH ... my recollection is that the street name will change to Ridge Road (?) ... it will feed into Ashland at Howard, but it is a very busy AND narrow/tight stretch (two lanes in each direction) with a lot of stop lights.

    As you might suspect, STREET traffic is signicantly lighter on SUNDAY! Go as early as you can (e.g., 6am) ...

    No matter which ride(s) you opt for, don't forget to go to GREEK TOWN ... just north of the LOOP, starting at around Jackson Blvd. along Canal Street. Great food.

    In fact, if you ride along Ashland, you will pass through several ethnic neighborhoods and you can scout out places to eat!
     
  4. woodchuck

    woodchuck New Member

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    I usually ride about 25-30 miles on a road ride. I am actually a MTBer but find it way more hassle to find MTB trails when traveling. Also, my road bike fits in my car whereas my MTB bike only goes on the rack. I assume if I am parked in one of those expensive elevated lots downtown that my bike will be safe locked up in my car. Is this a good assumption?

    The lakeshore route sounds nice (could ride it a few times). I don't get over to the lakes that often so it is nice to see real water once in a while. I will check out the greek food when off my bike so I don't stink the joint out.

    Thanks


     
  5. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    SORRY. Greek Town is just WEST of the LOOP ... not NORTH. Canal is west of the Sears Tower, BTW, to give you an orientation. Very walkable from wherever you will be staying.

    The ride going NORTH is fairly flat (it's the Midwest) ... there are some undulations in the roadway ... a 12-23 is probably more than enough gearing with a regular road crank; particularly, for a MTBer. Ravinia is possibly 120 feet higher in elevation than the most of Chicago to give you a sense of the elevation you will encounter.

    WOW!?! If you can take your bike into wherever you are staying, it's probably better -- MUCH BETTER. If someone sees you put your bike into the trunk of your car, THEY may liberate it when you aren't around ... even if it is in an elevated parking lot. I guess this is one of those times when a soft bike-bag would be a good thing to have so you can schlep the bike to/from wherever you are staying.
     
  6. badhat

    badhat New Member

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    god whatever you do stay off ashland... its a deathtrap for bikes.

    if you need to get north, take southport till it intersects clark and then clark up to sheridan.

    damen is also a pretty good north south route, but further west.

    the lakeshore path will get you all the way up to sheridan too, if youre going during the week. (as mentioned, it should be avoided at all costs on weekends in the summer.)
     
  7. badhat

    badhat New Member

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    areally great off street rec ride is the north branch trail from the northwest side up to the botanic garden.

    its around 20 or so miles i think. its quite an engineering marvel, as i dont think its ever more than a quarter mile from a major road or freeway, but its very protected and densely wooded and feels liek the middle of nowhere. it follows the north branch of the chicago river and has both a paved path and several off road spurs along its length.

    the botanic garden is a pretty epid garden, and i;m not even a huge fan of gardens, but its a sight to behold. and its got a little cafeteria with snacks and sandwiches and juice and stuff.

    the path is mostly flat as a pancake, as most of illinois is, the only climbing youd do is a couple of overpasses. but its really scenic and pleasant.

    highly reccomended if you have the time.
     
  8. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    I guess I was thinking in terms of riding ON SUNDAY MORNING -- EARLY SUNDAY MORNING ...

    ... If you're a rider who invites car doors being abruptly opened in front of you (I know one guy like that), then Chicago's streets WILL be an adventure.
     
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